CONVOCO! Lecture 01/2016: Power and Powerlessness of Public Institutions


On January 28, 2016, the first Convoco lecture on the 2016 topic “Authority in Transformation” took place in Berlin.

Prof. Claudia M. Buch, Deputy President of the Deutsche Bundesbank, gave a talk on “Power and Powerlessness of Public Institutions.” Following this, Prof. Buch was joined in a panel discussion by Dr. Günter Krings, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, and Prof. Jörg Rocholl, President of the European School for Management and Technology. The discussion was hosted by Prof. Rudolf Mellinghoff, President of the Federal Fiscal Court.

Dr. Corinne Flick introduced the evening’s topic by reflecting on the function and relevance of institutions in general and public institutions specifically. She made the point that institutions are the best that we have of giving a chance to the long-term view. Institutions limit the arbitrariness of individual action. She also explained that trust in institutions is an indicator for the stability of a political system.

Prof. Claudia Buch discussed the powerlessness of economic action using financial and monetary policy as an example. Here she saw three reasons for powerlessness: uncontrollable market volatility, acting in uncertainty, and being tied to political and economic interests. At the same time, however, she drew attention to the opportunities for action, that is the power of politics. In order to reconcile power and powerlessness, Prof. Buch identified three potential approaches: structured and transparent political processes that build on policy evaluation, improved communication, and international coordination.

During the discussion and the subsequent Q&A, participants and guests explored how the volatile financial market and the refugee crisis determine the way power and powerlessness in public institutions interact.




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